Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Dodgers Interested in Francisco Cervelli

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates Winter Meetings are coming to a close today with the Rule five Draft.  The Meetings are ending with a rumor that will be one to follow.

At the beginning of the Winter Meetings, it was rumored that several teams had interest in Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli.  Buster Onley actually reported that the Dodgers, Astros, and Mets had interest in the veteran backstop.  However, with the JT Realmuto still on the trade block, the rumor mill has been slow on the Bucs catcher.

However, with the Winter Meetings coming to a close after today’s Rule 5 draft, there is another report about the L.A. Dodgers interest in Cervelli.  The report comes from MLB.com’s Dodgers beat writer Ken Gurnick.  Gurnik wrote an article about the Dodgers being interested in Francisco Cervelli as a potential fall back option if they miss out on JT Realmuto. Here is what Gurnick had to say in his article:

"“The Dodgers also have been in touch with the Pirates about catcher Francisco Cervelli and view free agents such as Nick Hundley fallback options.”"

Seemingly every team that is in need of a catcher has interest in JT Realmuto.  So whenever he does get dealt, the Pittsburgh Pirates could have a numerous teams fall back to them for Cervelli. Yet, the Bucs could have teams decide to pass on Realmuto and get Cervelli before other teams fall back to him. So it could be interesting to see how things play out, but if there is one thing clear, there is definitely a market for Cervelli.

Now, what exactly could be a deal for the Pittsburgh Pirates?  Well, a few days ago it was speculated that the Dodgers would deal pitcher Ross Stripling for Cervelli.  Now as great a deal that would be, the trade really would not make much sense for the Dodgers.  First off, the team is looking to cut payroll this season.  Stripling is set to make league minimum next season which is normally around $500,000-600,000.  Cervelli meanwhile is going to make $11.5 million, so the Dodgers would be adding nearly $11 million in payroll.  Furthermore, Stripling has four more years of team control and should bring back much more than an aging catcher with one year of control left.

So what other player(s) could make sense coming back from the West Coast?  Looking at the Dodgers rotation they have plenty of options.  Obviously, their lead horse is Clayton Kershaw. Behind him is one of the top young pitchers in baseball Walker Buehler along with Ryu, Hill, and Stripling as their number five.  Not in their current rotation is 2017 all-star Alex Wood.

Wood is a left-handed pitcher who pitched to a sub-3.00 ERA 2017 and followed it up with a solid 3.68 ERA this past season.  He makes sense as a logical trade target for multiple reasons.  The first is more or less the fact that the Bucs could use a left-handed starter in their rotation.  He is a proven commodity that would be able to slide right into the team’s number three spot and improve the rotation.  Not to mention PNC Park would be a great benefit to him being he is a lefty.

The biggest reason why a swap of Cervelli and Wood could happen is due to their contracts. As mentioned earlier, Cervelli is due to make $11.5 million for next year and then hits free agency.  Alex Wood also will be a free agent after the 2019 season.  Wood is entering his final year of arbitration and is projected to make around $9-10 million.  While the Dodgers are looking to save some money, a swap of those two would almost be a wash in terms of money.

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If the Dodgers want to save more money, then the Bucs could kick in some cash to help offset the overhead on the swap. While this would be very unlike the Pirates, it would not break the bank being it would be approximately $1 million or so to make it a truly even the swap if need be. The team has moved money in the past to get a deal done.  Just last year the team sent money to the Rays to dump Daniel Hudson’s contract.

The Bucs need a lefty in the rotation and have an open spot.  Wood would not only fill the spot but would upgrade the rotation and likely make it the best in the National League Central.  Meanwhile, the Dodgers fill a hole without increasing their payroll significantly. With the emergence of Elias Diaz last season, it gives the Bucs the ability to make a deal like this.